‘ Zim will not relent on growing mining returns’ Mr Pfungwa Kunaka

Oliver Kazunga

Senior Business Reporter

THE Government is forging ahead with policies to ensure the country derives maximum benefits from its mineral resources, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Mr Pfungwa Kunaka has said.

The mining industry is one of the critical sectors accounting for 73 percent of foreign direct investment, 83 percent of exports, 19 percent of Government revenue, 2 percent of formal employment and 11 percent of individual incomes.

Zimbabwe is also leveraging the mining sector to achieve the aspirations of an upper-middle-income society by 2030.

Speaking at the Zimbabwe Capital Markets and Investment Promotion Conference in London this week, Mr Kunaka said in line with the thrust of making sure mining plays its expected sectorial midwifery role towards the attainment of Vision 2030 and sustaining rapid economic growth, the Government now has an Act that fosters value addition and beneficiation.

“We now have an Act that promotes value addition and beneficiation. When we are looking at value addition and beneficiation, we are actually going to the extent of coming up with a Statutory Instrument to ban the export of raw minerals.

“And in fact, looking at lithium, chrome, granite and other base minerals we have stopped exporting them raw and it’s something that is set towards promoting value addition and beneficiation,” he said.

“We are glad that all the investors in these sectors are abiding by that law. 

“The thrust we have taken in the mining sector as the Government is to ensure that some of the minerals are designated as strategic.”

Last year, the Cabinet approved the Lithium Ore Policy which stipulates that any individual or entity wishing to process the base metal is required to construct an approved processing plant locally; ore movement permits for lithium ores will only be issued where such ores are destined for a local approved processing plant.

As part of efforts to foster value addition and beneficiation, a US$13 billion mine-to-energy industrial park is planned for development in Mapinga, Mashonaland West Province.

In 2022, the Government and two Chinese investors —  Eagle Canyon International Group Limited and Pacific Goal Investment, signed a memorandum of understanding paving the way for the development of the mine-to-energy industrial park.

Mr Kunaka said the country learned the hard way some years ago when diamonds in Chiadzwa, Manicaland Province were being exploited without a proper framework, a development which saw the country being prejudiced of significant revenues.

“Now we have come up with that framework for strategic minerals —  so a lot of our base minerals including lithium, iron, copper and everything else are now designated as strategic minerals.

“There are certain protocols of you entering without making entry complicated but it’s all anchored on the thrust of making sure that as Zimbabwe we realise full benefit out of the mineral resources.

“And I want to indicate to colleagues that as we are working day-in-day-out with your investors (lithium and PGMs), we have gone to the extent of asking them to come up with roadmaps showing the direction and strategies they have for value addition and beneficiation.

“In mining, as in any other sector, we are there to promote responsible mining,” he said.

Last year, the Cabinet agreed that a Responsible Mining Audit (RMA) be conducted across the country to ensure that all mining activities are undertaken within the confines of Zimbabwe’s laws.

“We discovered that there is a lot of irresponsibility in terms of how we are exploiting and the Government has decided that we take this as a policy stance. We want to promote responsible mining.

“It so happens that when you are looking at mining, it comes with these ills of degradation, the emission of carbons, pollution, among others.

“So it’s necessary that we enforce responsible mining and we are glad that our investors in the mining sector are cooperating with Government.

“Annually, now we are undertaking what we call Responsible Mining Audits which are investigations over all operations in mining where teams of several Government officials go out in the field to inspect and monitor all the players in the sector whether small, medium or large,” he said.

This year’s RMA is expected to be launched in the next two weeks.

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